Dogs, we’ve often been told, are descended from wolves—or perhaps they’re more like cousins, from a common ancestor, depending on who you talk to. Whatever the case, sheep have little confusion over the issue: they recognize dogs as predators. It seems to be hardwired into the sheep’s nature. If you’re a sheep, when a dog starts approaching, you move in the other direction. This fact of life and nature is used to great effect by trained sheep dogs, who by varying their approach, gait and posture can get groups of sheep to do just about anything.
What to make, then, of this story, via Samantha Gross, of a sheep we’re told was orphaned as a lamb and then “adopted” by a Border Collie, sleeping by that dog’s side since then? The owner, Jemma MacKenzie, who named the lamb “Pet,” has posted videos on YouTube (like the one at bottom) showing this lamb (now more of a sheep) running and gamboling with a whole group of dogs. The sheep jumps and skips, even makes mock attacks on her canine friends, and seems utterly comfortable with them, as they do with her. It’s extremely funny and heartwarming.
Of-course, it’s a freakish thing, and there is some degree of human intervention involved; the dogs are not starving, and the attention of a kind person has had a civilizing effect on all of the animals. Still, it tells you that underneath it all, nature is not as quite as hardwired as we might think. There are things that go deeper than the predator and prey relationship. These things can be revealed, given the right circumstances. Isaiah’s ancient prophecy, which sounds so outlandish and unnatural, might be a vision of a reality much closer than we can imagine.
The wolf shall dwell with the lamb,
and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat,
and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together;
and a little child shall lead them.
The cow and the bear shall graze;
their young shall lie down together;
and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
The nursing child shall play over the hole of the cobra,
and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder’s den.
They shall not hurt or destroy
in all my holy mountain;
for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord
as the waters cover the sea.